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The Trombone ForumPractice BreakChit-Chat(Moderators: bhcordova, RedHotMama, BFW) Religion Matters: Take 3
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Baron von Bone
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« Reply #420 on: Apr 19, 2017, 08:36AM »

I'm actually pretty mystified what your real point is.  Mine is that from a traditional Christian perspective there is no contradiction between a conversion that is wholly the work of the Holy Spirit and at the same time an experience of intellectual engagement and transformation by the convert.  Whether or not an unbeliever agrees with that-- I would suspect not at all- is actually beside the point.

My point is that I don't think "head wisdom/head knowledge", as the cool theist kids say, is a terribly important thing either to most believers or to The Church. That's a thing that's important to apologists when they're apologizing, and really that's about it. Works the other way around as well--it's important to critics when they're criticizing (though it may be less true/less specifically situational for many critics).
 
I don't have a problem with it, personally--no need to feel "mystified" and all that. There's no attack here ... as is quite often the case on the OTF--well, just with very conservative religious types.
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« Reply #421 on: Apr 19, 2017, 08:54AM »


My point is that I don't think "head wisdom/head knowledge", as the cool theist kids say, is a terribly important thing either to most believers or to The Church.

Agreed.

But my objection is that I don't think "head wisdom" is ever the basis for a conversion. 

I don't doubt the honesty of some conversions, but I do doubt that head knowledge had much to do with it.  Head knowledge seems to get applied later, maybe to ameliorate buyer's remorse. 

I think apologists have been a larger influence in driving people away from belief than any amount of arguments from skeptics. 
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« Reply #422 on: Apr 26, 2017, 04:56AM »

Jesus & Mo get the better of unhinged liberalism (championed by Moses).
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« Reply #423 on: Apr 26, 2017, 05:59AM »

Agreed.
 
But my objection is that I don't think "head wisdom" is ever the basis for a conversion. 
 
I don't doubt the honesty of some conversions, but I do doubt that head knowledge had much to do with it.  Head knowledge seems to get applied later, maybe to ameliorate buyer's remorse. 
 
I think apologists have been a larger influence in driving people away from belief than any amount of arguments from skeptics.

I can think of a scenario in which a conversion can be at least derivative of critical thinking ...
 
A critical thinker recognizes and decides to take advantage of the benefits of a healthy religious community, and that ends up leading to a conversion. That's a bit of a stretch to call it a result because it would be indirect, but still. But yeah, frankly regarding conversions to religion and critical thinking, it's a can't get there from here situation. That doesn't mean critical thinking will prevent such a conversion either though. It's just that the reasoning that might produce a positive sense of religious belief doesn't also reach to the doctrine in the same way--i.e. you can't slip the doctrines in on the coattails of the positive psychological/health/social effects and still be thinking critically in regard to the doctrines.
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« Reply #424 on: Apr 30, 2017, 02:23PM »


My point is that I don't think "head wisdom/head knowledge", as the cool theist kids say, is a terribly important thing either to most believers or to The Church. That's a thing that's important to apologists when they're apologizing, and really that's about it. Works the other way around as well--it's important to critics when they're criticizing (though it may be less true/less specifically situational for many critics).
 
I don't have a problem with it, personally--no need to feel "mystified" and all that. There's no attack here ... as is quite often the case on the OTF--well, just with very conservative religious types.

I think its more complicated than just knowledge v emotion. A couple of examples

I've known people that think that God exists and know the bible pretty well but don't think that they are sinners and need saving.  They don't buy into the "God sent Jesus to die for me" so because of that so there's no emotion.

On the other hand there are those that feel guilty about sin without knowing too much about the theory and are immediately relieved and grateful when they hear that Jesus died to save them from that guilt.  They can be very emotional about their faith, and can be wrong in a lot of the theory of what's happening too.

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« Reply #425 on: May 01, 2017, 05:23AM »



I've known people that think that God exists and know the bible pretty well but don't think that they are sinners and need saving.  They don't buy into the "God sent Jesus to die for me" so because of that so there's no emotion.

That's not uncommon, and there's some theological support.  I guess one could be grateful for blessings without a crushing load of guilt driving some deeper emotion.

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On the other hand there are those that feel guilty about sin without knowing too much about the theory and are immediately relieved and grateful when they hear that Jesus died to save them from that guilt.  They can be very emotional about their faith, and can be wrong in a lot of the theory of what's happening too.

I would have said they were ignorant of the theory rather than being wrong.  I don't see how we can say definitively what is wrong, or right, within theology; there is no way to test any of it.  And there are of course four competing theories about why Jesus died, with only one of them being substitutional atonement. 
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Tim Richardson
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« Reply #426 on: May 01, 2017, 05:53AM »

I think its more complicated than just knowledge v emotion.

The Big Picture is, sure. I wasn't talking about the Big Picture though. I specifically commented on what's important to believers at large and The Church. If a believer isn't very intellectually engaged that's not a primary issue. It's not an issue at all for many, probably most believers/churches. It's an individual matter that few church leaders or peers are going to impose themselves into. Those who are all about intellectual engagement--for whom it's a very important aspect of religious belief and behavior--will probably encourage it (I certainly did), but it's not a qualifying measure for membership or acceptance or anything at all like that (I definitely did not judge peers as unworthy or some such nonsense if they weren't intellectually engaged enough for my personal tastes).
 
No?
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« Reply #427 on: May 17, 2017, 05:41PM »

Although I have some serious confessional differences with David Bentley Hart the premier Eastern Orthodox theologian, he is a well-respected thinker and has just recently released a new book on the New Atheist movement of Dawkins, Hitchens, et al. He has summarized his assessment of the movement in this short article.  Thought some of you might find it interesting.

https://www.firstthings.com/article/2010/05/believe-it-or-not
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Baron von Bone
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« Reply #428 on: May 17, 2017, 06:35PM »

Heh ... you thought some might find it interesting, eh?
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« Reply #429 on: May 18, 2017, 01:24AM »

It is a tickling schadenfreude-type feeling to happen across someone disparaging those with whom one disagrees profoundly. However, sharing their rant with those being disagreed with doesn't tend to win hearts and minds (something many of us could learn, btw). And the polemic may not stand up so well to a hostile viewpoint as to a supportive one. I daresay that the author of this would make the same comment to those reading e.g. Dawkins with friendly eyes - though to my mind less justifiably.

The most interesting thing about it to my mind is to see what a solid concept "New Atheism" is treated as by this writer. To him, it's a big and easily-defined boogey-man. In my perception it's always been largely an external construct - out of the gradually burgeoning social step away from Christianity in the West, a small number of people powerfully articulated their takes on the basic overreachings of this particular religion's faith-based world-view. Those feeling attacked by their words have largely defined the concept of it as a movement - but in doing so I have always felt rather missed the point - this isn't some organised new phenomenon, rather an outlier of something much broader, something very ad hoc. There have since the Enlightenment always been those that spoke out boldly against holding Christianity exempt from criticism - but given that more people than ever do not subscribe to it in the West - a third of Americans (and one half of people in the UK) now identify as some kind of "religious none" - of course we are going to see increasing numbers of people fail to see why they ought to mute their criticism in respect for the ancien regime as its tenacious grip on power over all of us is, piece by piece, loosened.

Skim-reading this article (I have limited tolerance for reading long screeds that misrepresent the people being attacked, juxtaposing snide jabs at them), I take away that the author's big criticism is that the objections  of the 'New Atheists' are insufficiently complicated to do respectful justice to the mountain of theology that's been built over the centuries. This is a point I have heard made here before. But it is not a valid criticism. If you build a house on sand, it doesn't matter how beautiful its turrets are, it'll fall down just the same. Once you step back to see that presupposing god(s) is an unnecessary complication to a worldview (i.e. it's a complication for which there's no evidence), there's no need to even walk in through the door of that house. One might in the name of intellectual satisfaction want to see exactly how the foundations are sinking, but the artistically-shaped towers - these are not of structural interest. The basic point of people like Dawkins is that the Emperor has no clothes; complaining that he's missing out on the latest fashions isn't an answer to him.
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« Reply #430 on: May 18, 2017, 05:12AM »



The most interesting thing about it to my mind is to see what a solid concept "New Atheism" is treated as by this writer. To him, it's a big and easily-defined boogey-man. In my perception it's always been largely an external construct - out of the gradually burgeoning social step away from Christianity in the West, a small number of people powerfully articulated their takes on the basic overreachings of this particular religion's faith-based world-view.

I have yet to read the article but will as soon as I have time.  If I am understanding your characterization, I think I agree with you.

There are a few articulate anti-theist atheists.  But the vast majority don't give theism another thought and get on with their lives.  They don't believe in a Deity, but their unbelief is not central to their identity.

This makes them very little different from many religious people, who DO believe, but know no theology and their belief is not central to their identity.  I suspect the percentages may be similar for both groups.

The strong believers really have a meme that atheism is driven by a deep desire to attack the Deity, but I don't see that operating in atheists I know. 
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« Reply #431 on: May 18, 2017, 06:38AM »

Yes Tim, I agree.

Perhaps seeing the other as opposing you is a comfort compared to seeing it as being largely indifferent to you.
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« Reply #432 on: May 18, 2017, 07:27AM »

Heh ... you thought some might find it interesting, eh?

well, after all, it IS:

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America's most
 influential
 journal of
 religion and
 public life
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Tim Richardson
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« Reply #433 on: May 18, 2017, 10:37AM »

There are a few articulate anti-theist atheists.  But the vast majority don't give theism another thought and get on with their lives.  They don't believe in a Deity, but their unbelief is not central to their identity.
A lot of apostates do get devangelical for a time at least. It's just the way humans often do in the wake of a conversion (or de-conversion), and for those who came from nasty religious backgrounds it's pretty understandable if it sticks and/or goes farther than most--that's just the way wounded humans often do. But even when apostates go there they don't tend to be anti-theist, only anti-theism, or just anti-religion (i.e. organized/institutionalized).
 
This makes them very little different from many religious people, who DO believe, but know no theology and their belief is not central to their identity.  I suspect the percentages may be similar for both groups.
The factor that may throw a wrench in the similar percentage theory is awareness. Civic religiosity is the cultural default (though less so these days it seems), so it seems the odds suggest a larger percentage of conscientious apathist atheists than conscientious apathist theists.
 
The strong believers really have a meme that atheism is driven by a deep desire to attack the Deity, but I don't see that operating in atheists I know.
It's an underlying denial of atheism--the idea that "atheism" is really the denial of belief rather than its actual absence. A fair number of believers just can't or won't conceive of anything that's too contrary to their religious views.
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« Reply #434 on: May 19, 2017, 08:19PM »

Well this is good news about the alleged standard issue waxing and waning of religious sentiment and the latest passing fad of doubt and disbelief ... er, I mean denial of course.
 
I think this one's good too. I used to make a point of dressing down when I went to the bigger, more fashion show type churches for this very reason--seems I recall something in the Bible about welcoming the poor and treating them well ... nothing of any substance about fashion though.
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« Reply #435 on: May 20, 2017, 04:00AM »

It's an underlying denial of atheism--the idea that "atheism" is really the denial of belief rather than its actual absence. A fair number of believers just can't or won't conceive of anything that's too contrary to their religious views.

That is a profound way of putting it. It's an attempt to deny atheists their identity - "No, you cannot be this thing you tell me you are, it doesn't fit into my worldview". There is commonality with the way that reactionary politics treat other groups that don't kowtow to the seriously problematic 'traditional' line - assertive women, POC, gay people, people of non-standard gender expressions, etc etc etc

Telling someone from a position of power (and many people are most certainly not shy about attaching Christianity to their political power in the USA) that they cannot exist as they conceive themselves is an oppressive statement. It is declaring them a non-person.
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« Reply #436 on: May 20, 2017, 05:05AM »

Who tells you that you can't exist, with whatever belief you have? Other than the Muslim belief?
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« Reply #437 on: May 20, 2017, 05:54AM »

So, it's a slightly subtle point, but it's profound.

An atheist (not all, but there are plenty that would identify): "I am an atheist. I do not run my life with reference to religions. In fact, I rather dislike the term 'atheist', implying as it does that I am defined in opposition to an unjustified belief."
A Christian of particular types (not necessarily yours; I don't know if you'd subscribe or not): "You are deluding yourself. Everyone is born innately knowing the truth of Jesus and salvation. You have denied this to yourself so strongly that you have denied that you ever denied it."

The response is an attempt to invalidate the atheist, to declare their thinking predicated on an impermissible point, to say that it isn't possible to opt out of religion. It's a slippery argumental tactic, one designed to retreat so far into axioms that the arguer cannot be teased out logically. But when Christianity (or another religion elsewhere or elsewhen in the world) is tied to the reins of power, as it is in the US by cultural conventions, then it is more than that. It is a figure backed up by authority decreeing that atheism is culturally unacceptable. I don't know if you'll have ever experienced the very disorientating effect of having your cultural milieu disapprove of you? At a guess, I would doubt it - maintaining your own cultural conformance seems over-ridingly important to you, from what I have read of your words. The sensation of being forced to swim against the stream in this way is not a pleasant one, which is why so many just go along with the flow.
In the US, such cultural disapproval goes a long way indeed. In many places, a declared atheist simply will not be elected to public office - they are effectively disenfranchised, and if that isn't a definition of 'non-person', I don't know what is.
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« Reply #438 on: May 20, 2017, 05:58AM »

--seems I recall something in the Bible about welcoming the poor and treating them well ... nothing of any substance about fashion though.

Just as long as you had tassels on the corners of your garments... And didn't wear mixed fibres...
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« Reply #439 on: May 20, 2017, 07:57AM »

So, it's a slightly subtle point, but it's profound.
Precisely why some experience more of the dimensionality life has to offer, and some live much more narrow and limited lives. Frankly it's why two dimensional is quite often a good descriptor for fundamentalist types' perceptions and thinking. Of course they tend to see most of that as "evil", given the fixation on only the dimensions of good, evil and neutral.
 
An atheist (not all, but there are plenty that would identify): "I am an atheist. I do not run my life with reference to religions. In fact, I rather dislike the term 'atheist', implying as it does that I am defined in opposition to an unjustified belief."
A Christian of particular types (not necessarily yours; I don't know if you'd subscribe or not): "You are deluding yourself. Everyone is born innately knowing the truth of Jesus and salvation. You have denied this to yourself so strongly that you have denied that you ever denied it."
Boils down to epistemology doesn't it, and whether or not the epistemologies applied account for enough of reality, such as the vagaries of human brain ownership.
 
Aphilatelist isn't in the dictionary as far I know. It's at least technically a term simply because of the mechanics of English, but it's not something we think about--certainly not something we attach any import or judgments to. Atheist, on the other hand, describes what is, at least historically speaking, a stark anomaly. But it's still inherently alien to define yourself by what you're not, or anyone else in terms of what they're not. It does make sense however, in at least some cases, in terms of the larger social context.
 
The response is an attempt to invalidate the atheist, to declare their thinking predicated on an impermissible point, to say that it isn't possible to opt out of religion. It's a slippery argumental tactic, one designed to retreat so far into axioms that the arguer cannot be teased out logically. But when Christianity (or another religion elsewhere or elsewhen in the world) is tied to the reins of power, as it is in the US by cultural conventions, then it is more than that. It is a figure backed up by authority decreeing that atheism is culturally unacceptable. I don't know if you'll have ever experienced the very disorientating effect of having your cultural milieu disapprove of you? At a guess, I would doubt it - maintaining your own cultural conformance seems over-ridingly important to you, from what I have read of your words. The sensation of being forced to swim against the stream in this way is not a pleasant one, which is why so many just go along with the flow.
That's very like the root of the ugly reaction to things like atheism and being too at odds with the status quo, or just too different. It's ultimately about insecurity, but it's at such a deep level (or dimension) that it flies under the radar of those so effected by it to judge others and even order their lives around it. Allowing for more dimensionality of life than the dogma software of their operating system can manage simply doesn't compute, and it can be a threat. The data is there, but there's no means of dealing with it, so it's just useless space, but from within the OS that doesn't read it it's just nothing unless it manages to get in an accident hook of code in there somehow.
 
In the US, such cultural disapproval goes a long way indeed. In many places, a declared atheist simply will not be elected to public office - they are effectively disenfranchised, and if that isn't a definition of 'non-person', I don't know what is.
In many cases, if the fact of one's atheism comes out, you can also definitely lose any confidence that you'd be able to get a fair trial by jury should such a situation arise. We've seen a number of cases of this in the context of much less pronounced differences than atheism--the West Memphis Three come immediately to mind. This also reminds me of the McMartin preschool Trial, but that was a presumed difference that's actually deeper and darker than atheism in the fundamentalist and public mind.
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